Coronavirus (COVID-19) While museums are closed, the Science and Society Picture Library prints site is fully operational and we have added an FAQ page here.

First glass negative by John Herschel, 1839.

Herschel, John F W (John Frederick William), Sir

First glass negative by John Herschel, 1839.
3 5 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 27cm


The photograph shows the decaying framework of William Herschel's forty-foot telescope. This experimental negative, silver on glass, is the earliest of a photograph on glass. The image has deteriorated badly and is barely visible. Sir John Herschel (1792-1871), was an English astronomer, mathematician and chemist and the son of Sir William Herschel. Herschel introduced 'hypo' (thiosulphate) as a photographic fixerative and discovered the cyanotype or blueprint process in 1842.

Image Details

Image Ref.

© National Museum of Science & Media / Science & Society Picture Library

buy a print

Select size
Select finish
How many prints?

buy a framed print

buy a canvas

buy a framed canvas